If you’re starting a new project, or a new business, in September, you’re in good company.
This is the month that moms and dads, recent grads and others decide to jump into a new endeavor or restart some project shoved aside in the summer months.
They need to balance this with the demands of their day job – and the boss may or may not be supportive of your Etsy shop or your new business. Yet these slash careers or side pursuits can make you “more rounded, develop additional skips, develop additional business relationships” and more, said Donna Schilder, a career coach who has had a string of side businesses, from editing and resume writing to an e-course on creating success through LinkedIn.
So as you ramp up your second income stream or an active volunteer activity, consider these five pointers:
1. Ask permission or ask forgiveness. Read up on your employer’s policies about outside jobs and interests. Find out whether you are expected to notify someone in HR or elsewhere. Then consider your direct supervisor’s views – if she’s laid back and involved in many community activities, she may not sweat your tiny start-up. Then decide whether to fly below the radar for a while, or be completely upfront and tell everyone what you’re working on from the start.
2. Carve out time. Use your lunch hour or time spent waiting for a doctor’s appointment or anything else on your project or business, suggests Schilder. Take the time on airplanes or on a bus, and the hours before your family gets up or after they’re in bed to move things forward. Change your commute so the time can be spent working on your side business, she suggests. And always carry your projects with you, with an iPad or notebook to make this easier.
3. See synergies and share them. “Let the boss know what’s in it for him or the company,” Schilder said, such as promoting the company when you are published or do public speaking. Find ways to use the skills or research from your personal passion in your day job.
4. Make the boss look good. It’s hard to argue with success, so make sure your work is a stellar success for your supervisor and your company. Exceed your numbers and offer suggestions that allow your boss and your department to shine. “Ensure you always meet your bosses’ deadlines,” she said.
5. Know when to say no. If a client wants you to cater a big event during the busiest week at your day job, decline the job. Avoid clients that require 24-hours-a-day attention and turn down work that conflicts with your main career. Sometimes you also may need to decline – politely, professionally – extra assignments or a promotion at your day job too, especially if they require more hours or relocation. You always must work the hours you’re employed for, Schilder says, yet some people negotiate for a reduced work schedule or sabbatical so they can build their business. “If you don’t ask, it won’t happen,” she says.
The key, of course, is creating a win-win situation so that as you grow your own project or business, your employer also is winning. Or as I used to say to colleagues who published books or started enterprises while working for major newspapers, “I bask in your reflected glory.”